By Cheryl Lock
If you think owning a dog means constantly apologizing to your neighbors for disruptive barking, it’s time to think again. Especially for people who live in close quarters with others or simply prefer quiet, it’s not especially hard to find a dog breed that will be perfect to take home.
“Barking is a dog’s way of communicating with the world, but some breeds tend to be quieter than others,” says Gina DiNardo, executive secretary of the American Kennel Club. “Certain breeds are just quieter by nature, while others are naturally more vocal, and then there are environmental factors that contribute to barking. Dogs may bark at animals they see outside, while others bark out of boredom, for attention, or because of separation anxiety. All dogs, including quieter breeds, need the appropriate amount of mental stimulation, physical activity, and human interaction to keep them happy and not barking unnecessarily.”
Individual temperament also tends to play a factor in whether dogs bark excessively, says dog trainer and pet expert Amy Robinson. “Take two pups from the same litter and one may be a real talker while another is mostly quiet, even thought they are the same breed,” she says. “Some dogs are content to observe their surroundings and interact with them at their leisure, not feeling the need to vocalize much, and others thrust themselves into every situation, wanting to be at the center of things and use their voices to shine the spotlight on themselves.”
If you’re looking for a breed that tends to be quieter than others, check out these suggestions from DiNardo and Robinson. Remember, every breed has individual variation.
Commonly known as the “barkless dog,” the Basenji is a hunting dog from Africa. Although the breed is mostly quiet, they do tend to make a sound that resembles a yodel when they get excited, DiNardo says. Besides being quiet, this breed is active and tends to be pretty independent.
A polite breed that tends to get a lot of attention, the Golden Retriever is generally a quiet breed. Additionally, “since they’re geared toward holding something in their mouths, barking would not be consistent with successful retrieving,” Robinson adds.
Typically aloof and standoffish with strangers, the Chinese Shar-Pei is devoted to his family, and only tends to bark when he’s worried or playing. It’s also a very intelligent breed that needs daily exercise, DiNardo adds.
The Japanese Chin is a loving companion dog, DiNardo says. The breed is known to be gentle, affectionate, and sensitive, along with being a fairly silent dog.
Friendly, sociable dogs who are well mannered and quiet at home, Greyhounds make great family pets, especially for families looking for quiet breeds. “These are sighthounds that concentrate on their surroundings using their eyes,” Robinson says. “Barking would get in the way of that concentration.” Remember also that as the fastest dog breed, Greyhounds do need regular opportunities to run, DiNardo cautions.
As a generally all-around easygoing, laid-back breed, the Newfoundland’s temperament leads to less overall barking, Robinson says.
Besides being friendly, affectionate, and gentle, the Whippet is also quiet and very versatile, DiNardo says. While their calm demeanor means they tend to be quieter than other breeds, they are also fast, athletic dogs who need daily exercise to stay happy.
Happy and affectionate, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are small dogs who are also known as ‘Comforter Spaniels’ for the soothing effect they have on their people. “They don’t need to vocalize much since they stick close to their owners and spend a lot of time in their laps,” Robinson says.
A calm, courageous, and friendly breed, Bulldogs make wonderful companions. “They are also quiet, affectionate, and easygoing, with minimal exercise requirements,” DiNardo adds.
A courageous, hardy dog known for good manners, loyalty, and willingness to please, Scottish Deerhounds also need sufficient exercise in a large, fenced-in area to stay healthy and happy. “Once mature, they are dignified, quiet housedogs,” DiNardo adds.
These racy dogs tend to be quieter and more observant, says Robinson, but the Doberman is no less serious about his work than other working breeds.
When it comes to quiet breeds, keep in mind that if you have more than one dog, you will likely have more barking overall as one will mimic the other, Robinson says. “They will also find it more tempting to continue barking longer,” she adds. “In wolf packs, wolves will vocalize before a hunt in what researchers call ‘cheerleading’ to possibly psych them up for the effort, so two or three dogs together might channel their inner wolf and bark longer than one dog would.”
If you have a dog who won’t stop barking—whether it’s supposed to be a quieter breed or not—there are a couple of things you can do to help calm him. First, assess why he might be barking in the first place. If you suspect boredom is the problem (which it commonly is when dogs are home alone), increase your dog’s exercise and try hiding food-stuffed toys around the house to help keep him quiet, Robinson suggests. “Spend quality time with the dog doing what he wants to do, and your dog should be more content to spend time without you,” she adds. “Separation anxiety can be lessened with calm goodbyes and greetings to lessen the excitement level. Playing soft, relaxing music and using essential oils like lavender and chamomile can also induce a calmer state; just put one drop of each on the dog’s bed and near the door from which you exit.” If you believe your dog might be suffering from separation anxiety, talk to your veterinarian or a dog trainer about positive reinforcement techniques.